Less than five minutes into my run, I heard loud music coming from somewhere. It sounded like it was coming from the truck buried in snow in the yard of one of my neighbors. I stopped. I stared at the truck, listened. The music wasn’t there. It was on the road. Near my feet. Someone’s phone. The number ringing came up listed as “home.”

I answered and said, “I just found this phone.”

The man said, “It’s my phone. Where are you?”

I said, “I’m on _________.”

He said, “Where?” I repeated. “What town is that?” I told him. “Oh crap,” he said.

“I’m just out for my run. I can leave your phone in my mailbox if you want to come grab it.”

“No,” he said. No? “Do you know the ______.” I told him not really. He said, “The lady with the truck that’s covered in snow in her yard?”

“Oh, yeah,” I said. “That’s where I’m standing.”

He said, “Can you go give it to them?”

I said, “It doesn’t seem like anyone’s home. I’ll put it in their mailbox, okay?” Silence. “Is that okay?”

Deep, defeated sigh. “Oh, all right,” he said.

And then he hung up.

I know he was disappointed. I really should have offered to skip my run and go back, get my car, and drive the phone over to him. It wasn’t enough that I saved his phone from getting run over or taken by someone else. It wasn’t enough that I saved his phone from the elements. It wasn’t enough that I saved him from shelling out another $400-600 for a new phone.

None of that was enough to warrant a simple thank you.

It bothered me my whole run. It fueled me.

It costs you nothing to say thank you to a person who has done you a kindness. Sure, I didn’t give him a kidney but I did more than many people would do and he could have at the very, very bare minimum said thank you.

Gratitude is eschewed as weak or simpering. It is seen as phony or, worse, unnecessary.

Not in my world. In my world that we are thankful is everything.

Every night, my son and I do what we call “Our Gratefuls” before bed. In our heads we say what we are grateful for. My list is expansive and my kid and husband are at the top of it. But I don’t forget what others have done for me, for us. I remember.

So for everyone who doesn’t say thank you to you, for everyone who blows you off because you are kind and, therefore, not worth their time, please let me thank you for them. Thank you.

Thank you for finding that guy’s phone.

Thank you for letting them have that cab.

Thank you for leaving that magazine behind that you thought someone might enjoy.

Thank you for donating those books.

Thank you for volunteering.

Thank you for being kind to your children.

Thank you for taking care of your elderly parents.

I do remember your kindness. I remember when I needed you and you were there.

Thank you.




2 Comments on “road

  1. Beautiful.

    with the night falling we are saying thank you
    we are stopping on the bridges to bow for the railings
    we are running out of the glass rooms
    with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
    and say thank you
    we are standing by the water looking out
    in different directions.

    back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
    after funerals we are saying thank you
    after the news of the dead
    whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you
    looking up from tables we are saying thank you
    in a culture up to its chin in shame
    living in the stench it has chosen we are saying thank you

    over telephones we are saying thank you
    in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
    remembering wars and the police at the back door
    and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
    in the banks that use us we are saying thank you
    with the crooks in office with the rich and fashionable
    unchanged we go on saying thank you thank you

    with the animals dying around us
    our lost feelings we are saying thank you
    with the forests falling faster than the minutes
    of our lives we are saying thank you
    with the words going out like cells of a brain
    with the cities growing over us like the earth
    we are saying thank you faster and faster
    with nobody listening we are saying thank you
    we are saying thank you and waving
    dark though it is

    –“Thanks” by W.S. Merwin

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